FRC Ventura Regionals

March 2017

Day 1 - Building
It was 5:30 AM. The morning was cool and damp, and a layer of fog had just begun to settle in the valley. We were ready to compete in the Ventura Regional. We were nervous for the competition, though we were well-prepared. It was our first competition, and we didn't know what to expect. Upon arriving, we went to the pits, hoping to quickly make the changes to the robot, participate in (and hopefully win) the practice matches, and have a relaxed day. Unfortunately, this hope was immediately destroyed as we were hit by a barrage of setbacks. We had packed our tools and safety glasses in another car, which was arriving later. We didn't even have the tools to unpack the robot; we would have to wait for at least 2 hours for the tools to arrive, leaving us with little time to make fixes. And worst of all, we couldn't even get in the pit without safety glasses. Luckily, help was on the way. They had safety glasses at the pits, which allowed us to go in, and the teams around us were nice enough to let us borrow their tools. We could make some minor fixes to the robot while we waited, and by the time the tools arrived, we were in full session. By lunchtime, most of the required fixes had been made, and the robot was almost ready to compete. All we had to do after this was to pass inspection, and one hour later, we cleared inspection and were finally able to make it on time for our third practice match. We were excited; it was our first time ever on the field. In the meantime, we began to make progress in scouting. We went around the pits, collecting valuable information about the other teams' robots, and within a few hours, we had a full database of team information. The practice match did not go as expected. We couldn't get many gears in, and failed to hang at the end, which had been one of our strengths; it was, however, a chance for us to know what to expect for the real games. After all, it was only a practice match, and it didn't count towards our overall rankings. We decided to let it go, and we headed down to the practice field to fix our autonomous program, which had also failed horribly. After almost an hour of failed attempts, electrical issues, and disconnections, the practice field was about to close, and at around 6:55PM the field administrator asked us to pack up and leave. We asked them for a small-time extension, and hoped that we could get out autonomous program working before the next day. The program did not work at first, but after we tilted the robot a little at the setup, it was successful, and we could finally pack up knowing that our autonomous program would work.

Day 2 - Competing
We arrived at the college from our hotel at 8:00 AM. Our first match was at 9:30, so we had some time to prepare the robot and get our drivers ready for the match. We began to decorate and set up our pit, and our driver team headed down to the practice field to get warmed up. After another hour of practice, it was finally time for our first match. Our robot performed excellently, as we were able to place 4 gears and hang, and we won the match by a huge margin. It was a tremendous success for us. The second, third, and fourth matches went similarly, and by the 6th match (which we won by 1 point), we were in 2nd place. We did lose the last match by a small margin due to a large penalty, but it did not set us back by much. At the end of the day, we were in 4th place. And best of all, we hung every single time. We had established ourselves as a strong team. Our pit team, which was responsible for talking to the judges, was also doing very well. The judges were impressed by our innovative wrench design to grab the rope to hang, and were also impressed at our engineering notebook and our progression through FIRST. Some judges did not even believe that we were a rookie team. We left the college with high spirits, feeling confident about our chances at the rookie award and at our robot performance.

Day 3 - Finals and Award ceremony
We arrived at the college at 8:00 AM, ready to win some more matches. Unfortunately, we did not have the same success as we did the previous day. We lost our first and third matches because of penalties and poor alliance partners. We did, however, win the second and fourth matches, and at the end of the qualification rounds, we were fourth place. We began to scout for teams, and we looked in particularly for teams that had hung consistently and could do the side autonomous. After much analysis, it was time for the alliance selection. We picked team 1967 the Janksters and team 3759 the SMARTBOTS for our alliance partners. Both teams had matched our criteria and hung consistently. We were quite excited at this point. It was our first year, and we had done much better than many other teams, including the very experienced teams. It was a huge accomplishment for us. We put our best drivers forward for the quarterfinal matches, which both went well. All three robots in our alliance hung both times, scoring a total of 305 points. We also scored the gear in autonomous both times, which was also a great accomplishment. Our semifinal matches were against a strong alliance. However, we did not perform as well as had hoped; in our first match, our alliance only scored 190 points in the first match, and 260 in the second match. In the first match, our autonomous failed, and one of the robots in our alliance failed to hang. In our second match, we couldn't get the second rotor to spin. We were out of the semifinals, but we still had a chance to win the rookie all-star award, which would get us to the World Championship. After an hour of exhilarating games, it was time for the awards ceremony, and soon after, the emcee was about to announce the winner of Rookie All-Star Award. "This team cannot be underestimated. They really made their presence on the field." he said. Our hearts started racing. "They have advanced through FIRST, participating in FLL, FTC, and FRC." he continued. More excitement. "Their heart-wrenching hanging system working consistently, and they hung almost every time." he announced. At this point, we were going wild. "The winner of the Rookie All-Star award is team 6560, the Charging Champions!" he exclaimed. We could hardly contain our excitement. All our hard work from the past five months had finally paid off. We ran up to the line of judges to claim our award. After the awards ceremony ended and we finished packing up, we convened outside to celebrate our success. It was a huge success for us: we had made it to the FRC world championship as a rookie team! We went home, feeling happy but too tired to celebrate. In conclusion, it was a successful tournament. We won the rookie award, and had made it to the semi-finals, beating over 30 experienced teams.

A photo journal of our journey >>

FTC Super Regionals

March 2016

On a cold Thursday morning in Oakland, we arrived at the convention center, unpacked our bags, and split up to divide and conquer; three team members went to the inspection area, and the others perfected their judging lines and got the pit material ready. After passing inspections, we headed to the conference rooms for our judging session, which could not have gone better. To celebrate, we ate lunch at Udupi Palace, an South Indian restaurant, in Berkeley. A couple hours later, we went to the practice round, which also went really well, and hit the sack as early as we could so we would be ready for the next day.

After yesterday's successes, we were ready to take the big test: the robot matches. The first round, unfortunately, did not go well. We were able to drop the climbers into the basket, for a total of 20 points, but the robot lost connection, and the robot started spinning in circles for the rest of the match. Disheartened by this loss, we regained our confidence again for the second round. In this round, we were able to hit the all-clear signal, hang the robot, hit all three zipliners, and drop the climbers into the shelter. However, we did not actually get any endgame points (all-clear signal and pull-up bar) due to a scoring mishap, and lost the match. Our third pair of drivers were not discouraged by these losses; they scored all the points in the third round, propelling us up all the way to 10th place. Unfortunately, this success did not last, for we had more connection problems. According to the engineers helping the teams, these connection problems were happening to many robots throughout the competition due to the huge number of people and cellphone signals, which messed up the robot's performance. But, by the 6th game, we had gotten our robot to work again, and we won our last match of the day. That night, after our losses, we went out to eat at El Torito to drown out our mishaps in Mexican food and went to bed early, fully prepared for the next day.

On Saturday morning we hoped our bad luck had worn off, and were ready to win some matches. Our first match was dismal because our robot didn't start, but we won the 2nd and 3rd match of the day. Happy that we finally got our robot to work, we went around and tried to convince teams to pick us. But alas, our score was too low to be picked for the final rounds. But all hope was not lost! We prepared for the awards and were hoping to get an award, especially the Think Award and the Connect Award. Finally, the award ceremony came, and we anxiously waited to hear our team name be called for an award. And thankfully, our team scored 2nd place for the Think Award! We were overcome with joy and cheered loudly, excited that we were going to worlds! Now we are preparing ourselves to travel to St. Louis, Missouri for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Perris FTC Qualifier

January 2016

The Perris Qualifier was the last of the season's qualifiers in California. It was cold when we arrived in the morning we arrived, with a good chance of rain. The setup of our pit table was over quickly and soon we were taken to judging.

After robot inspection, judging, and the driver's meeting, it was finally time for the matches. First, the prompt for this year's challenge was played and robots for the first two rounds were given the final ok. The judge was a bit suspicious of the sizing of our robot that we would use for the second round. We had already checked it in robot inspection and were confident that we would be fine. Yet for some reason, when the box was put over the robot, it did not go all the way down. What? The robot had passed the inspection . . . we had added a flap to the back of the robot which, by itself, did not obstruct the box. The zip ties that held the flap in place were preventing the box from going flat on the ground. It was too late for any more adjustments. The match was going to start any minute, so the team had to cut it. As a rule, changing anything during the eleventh hour without triple checking it , is a no as we learned it the hard way.

The match actually went fine and Ganesh, the driver, was able to maneuver the robot around the field without getting any debris stuck under the robot that could prevent it from moving. The matches went well and all of the team members were able to try their hand on the field, although it was painfully obvious who the better drivers were.

In between the matches, judges were walking around and asking questions which we were able to answer while passing around the questions to those who knew the most about that part of the team's work.

Those of us in the pit were carefully monitoring our ranking on the pit scoreboard as the final competitions came closer and closer. We were in second place and teams were starting to come up to us in an effort to form an alliance. Finally we had to send up our representative, Anish, with our picks. Then the first team, Robo Lions chose us to be in their alliance. We accepted and the Robo Lions chose Quantum Potential as their 3rd pick.

First we played the semis against the second alliance and won both matches. Charging Champions played both rounds with Robo Lions and Quantum Potentials respectively. Then it was time for the final matches. 1st match. We were playing the fourth alliance that had a hanging robot as well. We lost by 7 points. And then we won by 4. And then again with 20 points more. We won the competition!!! We finished packing up the pit as we waited for the awards to be presented. Jackets, display items, laptops, tools and everything was packed away so that we would not have to spend time after the competition wrapping up. At the awards ceremony, we realized we had won connect and second place inspire in addition to being the winning alliance. We had also been nominated for Think, Motivate, PTC, and Rockwell Collins Innovate Award.

We are happy with the results from the Perris competition and we look forward to meeting new teams in the Monrovia regional championships!

Our prior blogs >>